CCTA Announces Fiscal Year 2004 Ridership Increase of 8.5%Streamlining of Routes and New Ridership Initiatives Attributed to Ridership IncreaseBurlington, Vermont: The Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) has announced that Fiscal Year 2004 bus boardings are up 8.5% from the previous year, recording almost 1.8 million rides for the year. This is the highest ridership increase that CCTA has seen in more than two decades, continuing the upward trend that started two years ago. Some key ridership highlights from FY04:” University Mall/Airport is up 10.6%;” PARC Shuttle is up 24.2%;” Williston is up 28.9%;” Neighborhood Special routes are up 21.6%.Offering better public transportation to residents while still able to hold down the cost of bus services to our member communities has been a challenge for CCTA but one that we have embraced and have been successful at, says Chris Cole, General Manager of CCTA. We have successfully created public transportation linkages that benefit Vermonts economy as a whole by implementing transportation services that provide opportunities for both businesses and commuters by giving residents increased access to jobs. These bus services have been implemented without increasing the CCTA property tax assessment to our member communities, a funding source that does not support growth of our transportation system, added Cole.Many innovative projects can be attributed to the ridership increase. In FY03 and FY04, CCTA has analyzed its routes and have made route and time point modifications to increase on-time performance and efficiency. Extra passenger amenities have also been added to the CCTA system, such as new shelters, bus stop signs and schedule boxes at major stops also help residents navigate the bus system and make it easier to use. University and employee transit programs are also a factor in the increase:” CCTA and the University of Vermont have partnered up to provide free bus rides to all University of Vermont students, faculty and staff members, on all CCTA bus routes by showing bus drivers their University identification card. UVM then reimburses CCTA for the rides, making a large investment in public transportation, which helps out the community as a whole. This program, called Ride CCTA Free, reduces the number of cars that are used to commute to UVM, reduces parking demand, increases students access to the campus, aids in recruiting and retaining staff and students, and reduces the students costs of attending college, all large benefits of the University joining this program.” Through a partnership with the City of Burlington and the Campus Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA), CCTA operates public transportation shuttle services for Fletcher Allen and Vermont Red Cross employees, and students, faculty and staff from Champlain College. These high frequency shuttle routes are also available to the general public and visitors to the CATMA institutions and create a transit link from the South End of Burlington to Champlain College, the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care.” CCTAs newest route, the LINK Express, has exceeded ridership projections in the first year of service. This commuter route runs Monday through Friday during peak commuting times and connects Montpelier to Burlington, giving Vermonters greater access to jobs and larger opportunities for employment. The success of this route has allowed CCTA to expand the LINK program in this Fiscal Year; a Middlebury to Burlington LINK will start in mid-October and a Swanton to Burlington LINK will begin operating next spring.The Chittenden County Transportation Authority operates the regions public transit buses and provides 1.8 million rides per year in the Burlington area. CCTA has a forty-seven bus fleet, which services Burlington, Essex, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston, Winooski and a portion of Colchester. The mission of CCTA is to make efficient transportation services available to all residents of and visitors to the Chittenden County region that are safe, accessible, reliable, clean, affordable and sustainable, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all. For CCTA route and schedule information, please call (802) 864-CCTA or log onto www.cctaride.org(link is external).